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THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS - Push The Button   Print  E-mail 
Written by Graham Reed  
Thursday, 13 January 2005
The big red one marked Ďretro hip hop Big beat from 1999í. Go on, do it!

And they did.  There is a general rule of thumb that as soon as you release a greatest hits album, well, your career goes down the pan ; nothing matches up to that. Itís telling then, that very few bands have more than 1 greatest hits album in them - theyíre generally used to wrap up a career at a major label when the band move onto smaller things, or just prior to a farewell tour.

Fortunately In this case, its not a case of the Chemical brothers having one last gasp. Oh no, what we have here is an album that, whilst some pure die-hards hate it, is possibly their most rounded and a close contender for their best album yet ; if it isnít, its certainly a close contender after 1999ís Surrender. In fact, its probably in many ways Surrender Part 2.

From the funky string laden samples of Galvanise, this is an album of smooth beats, sharp samples and deep house - far removed from the chunky big beat of the debut and 1997ís spiky and often impenetrable "dig your own hole". Rather than being mostly instrumental, once again, the Chemical Bothers employ an assortment of guest vocalists; From the old school indie collaborators such as the much-favoured Tim Burgess of the Charlatans to the ethereal female vocalists and old skool rappers like Q-Tip.

Its very much business as normal - guest vocalists ahoy, smooth beats, and tracks merging into each other, like they always do. Add in sound effects such as the sound of crashing airplanes and the occasional up and coming semi-obscure indie singer (in this case, the one from the Bloc Party, who are surprisingly good) , and you get the pictures. Its almost as if they sat down with a formula and worked out what they needed to fit the template.  Sub Fatboy Slim breakbeats? Check. Sampled sirens and bleeps? Check? Smooth and enjoyable? Yep. Thereís no real progression here, but when youíve got a formula that works, donít fuck with it. But what a formula!

It might not come close in anyoneís end of years charts - their years of setting the pace are perhaps long gone with such a regression into former territory, that like much of the bigbeat scene  - for example see last years Fatboy Slim album " Palookaville"   two albums ago he was selling 800,000 copies off the block, now its in and out of the top 100 in three weeks - it seems almost retro and backwards looking.Now Whilst in many ways, Push The Button  recycles the past -  yes, its formulaic, its derivative, but itís the Chemical Brothers doing what they do best, and when they do it well, no one else even comes close. And thatís pretty much the case here with a varied though occasionally one sided palette, its like the revolution happened and no one noticed.Its 1999 all over again, and the world is stood on a podium shouting "hey boy hey girl, superstar DJís, here we go!" in a mix of elegiac beauty and pumping beats..  Smooth, enjoyable, occasionally retro and damn good.

Push the Button? It pushes mine. Thatís good enough for me.


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